Acoustic crypsis in communication by North Atlantic right whale mother-calf pairs on the calving grounds

Susan E. Parks, Dana A. Cusano, Sofie M. Van Parijs, Douglas P. Nowacek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Mammals with dependent young often rely on cryptic behaviour to avoid detection by potential predators. In the mysticetes, large baleen whales, young calves are known to be vulnerable to direct predation from both shark and orca predators; therefore, it is possible that mother-calf pairs may show cryptic behaviours to avoid the attention of predators. Baleen whales primarily communicate through low-frequency acoustic signals, which can travel over long ranges. In this study, we explore the potential for acoustic crypsis, a form of cryptic behaviour to avoid predator detection, in North Atlantic right whale mother-calf pairs. We predicted that mother-calf pairs would either show reduced calling rates, reduced call amplitude or a combination of these behavioural modifications when compared with other demographic groups in the same habitat. Our results show that right whale mother-calf pairs have a strong shift in repertoire usage, significantly reducing the number of higher amplitude, long-distance communication signals they produced when compared with juvenile and pregnant whales in the same habitat. These observations show that right whale mother-calf pairs rely upon acoustic crypsis, potentially to minimize the risk of acoustic eavesdropping by predators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalBiology letters
Volume15
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 31 2019

Fingerprint

Whales
Acoustics
animal communication
calving
acoustics
whales
Communication
calves
predators
Ecosystem
Sharks
habitats
sharks
travel
Eubalaena glacialis
Crypsis dual-cure adhesive
Mammals
demographic statistics
Demography
mammals

Keywords

  • acoustic crypsis
  • baleen whale
  • eavesdropping
  • predator avoidance
  • right whale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Acoustic crypsis in communication by North Atlantic right whale mother-calf pairs on the calving grounds. / Parks, Susan E.; Cusano, Dana A.; Van Parijs, Sofie M.; Nowacek, Douglas P.

In: Biology letters, Vol. 15, No. 10, 31.10.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Parks, Susan E. ; Cusano, Dana A. ; Van Parijs, Sofie M. ; Nowacek, Douglas P. / Acoustic crypsis in communication by North Atlantic right whale mother-calf pairs on the calving grounds. In: Biology letters. 2019 ; Vol. 15, No. 10.
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